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Acting School Requires Prop-Gun Safety Course After Recent Shooting Death On Western Film 'Rust'

HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) - After the tragic shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by actor Alec Baldwin on the set of the western film "Rust," there has been an outcry for safety changes in the entertainment industry and at least one acting school has now made prop-gun safety training a mandatory course.

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Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, shot and killed Oct. 21, when actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun loaded with a live rounnd of ammunition, during the filming a western in Nex Mexico.

"Weapon's going hot. One full load, black powder round, fire in the hold," Master Armorer Clay Van Sickle was seen saying to a group of students at the Theatre of Arts Wednesday.

Van Sickle was invited to teach the now mandatory course at the school following the shooting death of Hutchins with a live round of ammunition that somehow made its way into the prop-gun Baldwin fired.

"The industry has definitely had some trauma. Obviously, we're all hyper aware of safety right now," Van Sickle said.

He started the gun safety course by first explaining to those attending what an armorer actually does.

"The armorer is the person on the film set who is in charge of all the weapons and everything that relates to them. All the blank ammunition, all the dummy rounds and all of the rehearsals and line-ups that go around them on camera," Van Sickle said.

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Master Armorer Clay Van Sickle demonstrates prop-gun safety to a group of acting students. (credit: CBS)

An 18 year veteran as an armorer in the entertainment industry, Van Sickle walked through all of the safety protocols on film sets that have been in place for decades.

"Ensuring all the weapons are cold, with multiple checks, at least three on the way to talent every single time," the master armorer told the students. "And by cold, we mean unloaded, inert firearm being used as a prop on camera, and then also going through what would happen if you're firing a blank on set."

The acting conservatory was unable to have this course hands-on course for two years because of the pandemic. They want to make sure their soon-to-be graduates get the safety training before getting a job in the film industry.

"I know anywhere I work, it's definitely going to be something there's probably going to be a gun at some point. So, I'm kind of ready and waiting for that," said student Garett North.

North is close to graduating from the conservatory program and is glad he had to come back and get trained on safely handling weapons on set.

"By the end of it, there was just a little bit more more of a level of confidence with holding that and that is such an important thing to have when holding something that either represents or is something very dangerous," North said.

"Negligence and complacency can kill," Van Sickle said. "Hopefully going forward, this can be a wakeup call and hopefully something positive can come out of this terrible tragedy."

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